Dispatches From The Geeks

News and Announcements from the MCS Systems Group

Network upgrade this weekend

CIS is performing network upgrades on the border router this weekend. This is similar to the work that was performed in July, however this time they have learned from the problems during that upgrade and do not expect any outage to be longer than a few seconds.

That being said, if you notice any external connectivity issues this weekend, that’s the cause. If it happens, don’t panic, and know that the entire networking team is here and working on it. Internal connectivity will be unaffected. Thanks!

Written by Craig Stacey

August 24, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Change in account sponsorship rules and termination of accounts.

With our new account management system and improvements in how it interfaces with ANL’s HR system, we have made some changes in how account sponsorships are handled.

Previously, we required anyone who was not a regular employee in MCS to have an account sponsor, since we had no way of reliably knowing when employment ended for anyone not fitting that category.

However, with our close ties to ANL’s HR system, we now know of daily changes in status and can change account types accordingly. As such, to reduce the administrative burden across the board, we’re not requiring sponsorships for any accounts with a valid badge. Likewise, anyone with a valid badge can sponsor another account. Unsponsored, or “permanent”, accounts have no set expiration date. They are directly tied to the validity of the badge associated with them.

Unless we are notified otherwise, any unsponsored accounts will be deactivated the as soon as the associated badge is no longer valid. If you know your employment or appointment at the lab is coming to an end, but still wish to retain your account on a collaborator basis, arrange with someone beforehand to sponsor your account and let us know — in most cases we will be able to change the account before termination of the appointment and access to the systems can be uninterrupted.

As before, deactivated accounts will remain on the system (but locked) for 90 days. After 90 days of inactivity, the account is removed from all systems. At any point a user can request reactivation at https://accounts.mcs.anl.gov, however, if it is after the 90 day period, there is to be no expectation of data being retained.

Hope this clears things up, and please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks!

Written by Craig Stacey

August 17, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Spam Quarantine will be disabled for one week starting Sunday

During CIS’s maintenance weekend (August 17-19), they will be upgrading the IronPort spam appliance that filters all our mail. One of the things it does right now is take mail that it’s flagged as spam, and puts it into a quarantine. You may have received e-mail notifications about these quarantined messages, with instructions on how to release a message from quarantine — this is what happens when it catches something for you.

Well, the upgrade process does not allow a transfer of quarantined messages from the old servers to the new. This means that any messages sitting in quarantine on the old boxes will be gone.

To reduce the possibility that someone will lose an improperly quarantined message, CIS is taking the following approach:

  • If you have a quarantined message, the notice will now tell you you have a week to release it. 
  • Starting on Sunday the 12th, new spam messages will be flagged as spam, but will not be quarantined. This will result in more spam mail making it to the mail server. 
  • It’s likely that either Zimbra or your mail client (depending on which client you use) will trust these flags and still prevent the message from hitting your inbox. So you may not notice this. But if you do notice an increase in spam messages, this should only last for a week. 
  • Once the new appliances are online during the weekend of August 17-19, the quarantine will be turned back on, and we will resume operating the same way we are today. 

Let us know if you have any questions.

Written by Craig Stacey

August 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Zimbra (Mail, Calendar) outage on Sunday, August 19

CIS is planning to install an update to the Zimbra server on Sunday, August 19th. This will involve a downtime of 3-4 hours starting at 9AM, during which time you will not be able to check mail or calendars. Depending on your setup, you may not be able to send mail. No mail will be lost during this outage, only delivery will be delayed.

If this poses a hardship for you, please let us know ASAP. Thanks.

Corrected to use proper day of week.

Written by Craig Stacey

August 7, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Confluence outage Monday 8/6 @ 5pm

We will be upgrading the Confluence server (collab.mcs.anl.gov) software on Monday evening at 5pm. Users may see an outage of up to 1 hour while the work is done.  We are hopeful this upgrade will resolve some page edit restriction bugs we are seeing on private pages.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Written by Craig Stacey

August 2, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

New SVN service available / Confluence update

We’re proud to unveil a new service that people with MCS workstation accounts can take advantage of. It’s a self-service SVN repository.

We aren’t targeting this as a replacement for existing SVN repositories, instead it’s geared towards those quick projects that involve a lot of collaboration with people who don’t have MCS accounts.

It’s hosted at http://repo.anl-external.org. People with MCS accounts should login with their MCS credentials, and have the ability to create and administer SVN repositories. You can then add accounts for external collaborators.

Try it out and let us know your thoughts.

Also, our Confluence server at http://collab.mcs.anl.gov is currently at maximum user count, which prevents new users from being created. We’re pushing through a request for additional licenses and hope to have this resolved quickly.


Written by Craig Stacey

August 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Upgrading to Mountain Lion

If you are using an Argonne-owned Mac laptop in MCS, CELS, LCF, CI, or IGSB and would like to be part of the lab’s Mountain Lion purchase (for installing now or later), please send a note to systems@mcs.anl.gov indicating whether you want the client or server version.  (Most users want the client version).

If your mac is managed by the MCS Systems Group (administrative machines, for example), we will count you already.

We need these numbers by end of week, Friday, August 3.

If your computer is more than 3 years old, it will not likely support Mountain Lion.  If in doubt, ask us.  Also, any new machine purchased since June 11 is eligible for a free upgrade (or will come with it preinstalled), so you will not need to purchase an additional license.  You can check availability at http://www.apple.com/osx/uptodate/.

The cost per license is $9.99, and will be charged to your division.  The installation images will be disbursed as soon as we receive them.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Craig Stacey

July 31, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Brief network outage on Thursday (7/26).

As part of the larger network upgrade the lab is doing, one of the border routers will be replaced from 7PM through 11PM on Thursday. Because it is our backup link, the 4 hour work window should have no real impact on operations, and the expectation is that users may see a 60-90 second drop in traffic at the final cutover at the completion of the work.

Please let us know if you have any concerns.

[Edited: I meant Thursday, not Friday. Sadly, calendars and the passage of time elude me.]

Written by Craig Stacey

July 24, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

stomp failed hard drive [Update: Machine back]

stomp.mcs.anl.gov has a bad hard drive. We are shutting this host down until we can replace it. In the meantime, please use one of the other compute servers such as thwomp.mcs.anl.gov or crush.mcs.anl.gov.

[EDIT: The machine is now back.]

Written by Craig Stacey

July 20, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Labcast: All systems are back online

CIS reports all systems back.  Mail should work as expected now if you were previously experiencing trouble.

Begin forwarded message:

All systems are back online, including email.  You may experience delay in delivery of email messages for a little while longer.
Report any problems to the CIS Service Desk at ext. 2-9999, option 2 or 


Written by Craig Stacey

June 28, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


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